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Missing hikers: Officials urge volunteer searchers to 'be safe'

April 03, 2013|By Kate Mather and Lauren Williams
  • Family members and friends arrive at Trabuco Flyers Club to continue the effort to find Kyndall Jack, 18, and Nicholas Cendoya, 19, both of Costa Mesa.
Family members and friends arrive at Trabuco Flyers Club to continue the… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

Volunteers who are helping authorities search for two missing hikers in Orange County are being urged to take extra precautions of their own.

In a statement released by the Orange County Sheriff's Department, authorities said individuals who want to contribute to the effort should "be prepared, be safe and have a plan."

"When hiking in wilderness areas, be prepared for the unexpected," the statement said.

Kyndall Jack, 18, and Nicholas Cendoya, 19, both of Costa Mesa, got lost on Easter Sunday, telling authorities late that evening that they were about a mile from their car in Holy Jim Canyon. Their cellphone lost power soon afterward, and no contact has been made since.

Jack's father told reporters Wednesday morning that dozens of friends and family were still combing the area. A sheriff's deputy called out on a loudspeaker: "Nicholas and Kyndall, this is the Orange County Sheriff's Department. We want to help you."

"At this point, everybody's still upbeat, optimistic about finding the kids in good shape and alive," Russ Jack said.

Russ Jack said that about 4:15 a.m. "little sparks" were spotted on a hillside, "like a dead lighter trying to get somebody's attention."

"It ended up being nothing," he said. "They already searched out as daybreak came."

Russ Jack ended the brief interview with a message for his daughter.

"Kyndall, I love you," he said.

Bloodhounds picked up Jack's and Cendoya's scents early Monday and again late Monday night, officials said. Tuesday afternoon, rescuers combed through a 2-mile arc from the hikers' car, focusing efforts on where the dogs last found the scents.

The rocky, tree-shaded dirt trail the pair took leads to a waterfall. The 2.8-mile round trip is popular with day hikers. Its difficulty is listed as moderate to serious on a U.S. Forest Service website. Jack and Cendoya, however, "did not keep to the trail," Guidice said.

Authorities said they were concerned about heat and cold stress, but the recent cloud cover has worked in the pair's favor, keeping temperatures at night in the low 50s.

"These are very survivable conditions," said Orange County Sheriff's Department Reserve Lt. Chuck Williams. "That's what we pray for."

Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Erin Guidice said Tuesday afternoon that she thinks the teenagers are alive but probably hurt: "If these two were ambulatory, I believe they would have walked out."

Their parents issued a plea for volunteers to help join the search effort and hundreds turned out to assist.

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